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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  October 6, 2009 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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of the brookings institution. pressed the administration on u.s. policy towards iran and elijah cummings. we're fast approaching the eight-year mark since the war in afghanistan started. today president obama is calling on congress for advice. in just about 90 minutes, leaders from both sides of the aisle will be talking strategy with the president on afghanistan and pakistan. it is the big story at the white house so, let's go right to nbc news white house chief white house correspondent chuck todd and political director, chuck, i know you're waiting there for robert gibbs' briefing, what are the options here for the president? he has general mcchrystal being far too public, certainly for secretary gates' tastes and we know that there are middle options and sort of high-risk, low-risk, medium-risk options and what can the president do
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going forward in afghanistan having made the decisions he made in march, isn't he boxed in? >> it's interesting, i think they're having a debate right now between the difference of fighting alcada and the difference fighting the taliban. and the reason i bring that up is because you do, when you see today's event where the president was today, the national counterterrorism center he talked about al qaeda. in fact, he mentioned the name al qaeda ten times. he mentioned the word taliban zero times and i was talking with senior official the other day who said, look, don't conflate the two. this administration believes there has been too much conflation of alcada and the taliban. al qaeda, they say, is a global threat and the taliban is a global domestic threat, basically, to afghanistan and pakistan. now, the question is, if the taliban is in charge, doesn't that create a safe haven? i think this is where the debate is taking place both in congress and inside this white house. >> to reinforce exactly what you
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are inferring from what he is saying, this is what he had to say today at the counterterrorism center on that point. >> it should now be clear. the united states and our partners have sent an unmistakable message, we should target al qaeda wherever they will take route and not yield in our pursuit and developing the capacity and cooperation to deny a safe haven to any who threaten america and its allies. >> well, one of the problems, though, in going after al qaeda which are technically we believe bin laden on pakistan soil is that the relationship with the pakistanis are not that solid. they have their own interest and we have ours. >> actually, according to officials i talked to, is very much improved to the regime, at least on the issue of intelligence and they feel that the pakistnis are actually trying to do counterterrorism on that side of the country and on
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that northwest side of the country and they're not just solely focused on india and they say that increased in cooperation is why they believe they made so much progress on al qaeda. i think it was general petraeus in the interview with brian williams on how they got the majority of the top 20 al qaeda officials that they targeted in the last year. >> which will all speak to an eventual division to scale back the larger goals on the afghan cooperation. let me ask you quickly about something involving china. the dalai lama here and he comes once a year and met with house speaker pelosi who presented him with the human rights prize on the hill and this is one of the few times in years and years that he has not come to the white house, which some are seeing as appeasement of the chinese prior to the president's visit to china and certainly with the importance of the chinese relationship for all of our efforts to shore up support internationally against iran. is this appeasement of the chinese. >> well, it certainly looks like
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it. by the way, one of the few times that you actually see speaker pelosi and this president not on the same page. when it comes to the human rights and china always been very heavily pushed against the chinese on this issue. so, it's clear, you know, this will fit the obama doctrine on foreign policy which is, you know, this is, you're dealing with each country on equal terms in many cases and i think this is what you're seeing play out. >> thank you so much, chuck todd at the white house. of course, we'll bring you any highlights from robert gibbs as the briefing proceeds. thanks, chuck. >> you got it. meanwhile on a very grim note. eight american soldiers killed over the weekend in afghanistan return to the united states today. their flag-draped coffins arrived this morning at dover air force base in dover, delaware, the new policy where we're permitted to see those arrivals. today a better idea of just how
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big that battle was. nato says that 100 enemy fighters were killed. nbc news pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski is in kabul joining us live. can you fill in any of the details from this terrible battle? >> that's right. andrea, u.s. military officials we're talking to said that the death toll for the enemy was actually somewhere closer to 160 enemy forces killed in that battle that really raged on for six hours and continued off and on for another 20, 24 hours. and u.s. military officials are telling us that this attack was carried out primarily, the foot soldiers were primarily local militia and tribal fighters. but that this attack was so sophisticated and they have evidence, in fact, that it was plan, lead and conducted by taliban. they say among those 160 are at least two or three local top
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taliban commanders who are also killed in that attack. one interesting issue about this is that the military officials say that it probably took three to four weeks for the enemy to position all those heavy weapons on those sheer cliffs that were overlooking that combat operating base. and one other thing, if i may, there's all this political fallout over general stan mcchrystal's somewhat open request for additional u.s. forces here in afghanistan, as you can tell or as you can imagine. everybody in the u.s. military and u.s. government here has clammed up. they're not going to say a word on the record or on camera until the president makes his final decision and we're told that general mcchrystal is becoming increasingly resigned to the possibility that he's not going to get all the forces that he thinks he needs to conduct the kind of counterinsurgency
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operation that he thinks has the chance to ultimately succeed. andrea? >> mik, you talk to the military all the time, you're a veteran at all of this. what are you getting, what is the mood there among the military about the way the brass is being treated by the civilian side of the operation and the rebuke, really, from secretary gates and the signals that are coming out of the white house towards general mcchrystal? >> well, you know, traditionally the military leadership tries not to get out in front of the president of the united states. there are some examples over history that really didn't end too well for those men in uniform. and they think this whole thing is being overblown a little bit on mcchrystal's part. but they do acknowledge that some of what was said may have gone a little too far or even further than other military offices have been willing to say publicly in the past, particularly what appeared to be
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a challenge against vice president joe biden's idea, almost a personal challenge for mcchrystal sayish that the idea that you can just go after al qaeda with small forces and unmanned drones probably is a short cited strategy were mcchrystal's words. ultimately, we're also told that mcchrystal has told his staff that, look, no matter what the president hands us, if he gives us no additional troops, we'll take that mission and try to work with it and make it succeed. >> jim miklaszewski, thanks so much from kabul. with us now military analyst and retired u.s. army general barry mccaffrey. thanks so much. let's put it all in context. general mcchrystal is going to salute and carry out the mission, whatever the decisions are. this is not a mcarthur situation, not hardly. but how difficult is it to carry out the command if, in fact, as
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is now likely he will not get all the troops that he says are necessary to avoid failure? >> well, a lot of the heat of this debate is inside the beltway, not on the ground in afghanistan. i think it was clear to me that mcchrystal is not a political actor and probably the best fighter we had in the last 25 years and ran the special operations war in iraq and afghanistan. so, i think what he has done is he has take on the president's march speech and turned it into an operational plan, yielding a resource requirement. that was promptly leaked by everybody in washington per normal. and that's added fuel -- >> welcome to our world. >> i think, in some ways, it's quite healthy. with rumsfeld we went into a disastrous operation in iraq and the generals all said, yes, sir, stayed mute and we got in terrible trouble. i think mcchrystal being explicit in his judgment, by the way, it's the president's decision, not general mcchrystal's on how to move forward.
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i think you'll see him take the guidance and move forward with it. >> taking your point, it was the march speech that set the guidelines for mcchrystal's strategy and perhaps the mistake and this was suggested to me by a prominent republican senator, but a moderate senator, not one who follows the military blindly by any means. the suggestion that the march speech, the march strategy was a mistake that it was too soon, too quick a major decision by this president. >> certainly, it laid down a template. it said this is a war necessity and u.s. vital interest and then he approved, essentially, embedding u.s. forces among the civilian population. get off the frontier and protect the people. that is going to yield an increased requirement for u.s. combat forces. >> how does he get out of that now if he has decided that that wasn't the right strategy. politically, how does he get out of it? >> i don't know. i think what we learned out of the last 50 years of history, you have to level with the american people.
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if we're going to go in and create new reality in afghanistan, it's ten years, it's a lot of casualties and it's probably worth it, but you've got to persuade the american people to stay with you and that hasn't happened yet. >> let me bring up today's "washington post" editorial because chuck todd was pointing out that the president in his speech at the counterterror center today is focusing on the al qaeda not the taliban. al qaeda is the threat to the homeland and that could set the stage for not necessarily fighting as large a war and as broad a nation building exercise in afghanistan, focusing more on where al qaeda is which is in a lot of other places. it's true that the taliban is fragmented with some bits focused on afghanistan and pakistan and all quoted in pakistan, but considerable evidence that the groups coordinate their action. if the taliban regain power in afghanistan, provide a new base for attacks on pakistan and the pakistany army which has veered
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among backing the taliban most recently going to war with it, will almost certainly give up its fight if the united states did. sort of a domino theory, isn't it? >> pretty strong argument. the essential u.s. interest here is pakistan. nuclear weapons, there are vital u.s. interests at stake. i would suggest, though, it's a mistake to argue for 100,000 nato troops in afghanistan per antial qaeda operations. that's not going to fly. we're there, it seems to me for a decade to build a state that cannot act as the center of international terrorism. but al qaeda is in the tribal region in latin america and it's in molly and somalia and it's around the globe. so, one of the numbers floating around as a nonnumber is 100 al qaeda in afghanistan. >> 100 alloca qaeda. if you make that argument, we should be declaring war in
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somalia. we should be, we are ramping up counterintelligence efforts. we should be in a lot of other places in the horn of africa as much as in afghanistan. >> good political argument but not only strategy to say that our purpose in afghanistan is to confront international al qaeda terrorist operations. >> what a mess. general mccaffrey, thank you very much. that's a high pollutant military term. what a mess. thank you very much for your insight. meanwhile, the senate finance committee is waiting for a final cost estimate from the cbo, the congressional budget office before taking a vote on the health care overhaul. even then the bill has miles to go before getting to the senate. "time" magazine karen joining us next. thousand kilowatts in a vise. squeeze some savings back into our budget. into our attics and walls. let's locate the original energy source called you
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president obama's top dealmakers on capitol hill awaiting in the wings for the senator max baucuses to call a vote on the senate finance committee's health care plans so that they can start merging the senate plans. national political correspondent for "time" magazine joins us now who has been watching every, every move on health care for so many months now. >> we have the delay until the cbo scores this, but our own ken strickline now reporting from the hill that the congressional budget office says they'll come up with their numbers tomorrow. how critical is that, karen? >> well, you know, there was a gentlemen's agreement and i know where congress is concerned, that sounds like almost an oxy moran, but that the finance committee was not going to vote until they actually had the nnu in front of them. but at this point it looks like passages pretty much assured and now we move into an even more
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delicate phase where we see the house speaker and the senate majority leader trying to take all these five pieces of legislation that we've seen come out of various committees and build them into some kind of coherent hole that can pass congress. >> arguably harry reid has a tougher chore, just because of the difference between senate and house rules and the speaker, speaker pelosi has the clout to pretty much have her way once these negotiations start. but harry reid has got to take these desperate approaches to health care and put them into some rational whole. >> the center is a very different kind of institution. the majority leader doesn't have a lot of power once the thing hits the floor. it could be amended from every single direction. it can be, you know, it's going to require 60 votes in most cases to overcome a filibuster. so, he's, he's really got a very difficult spot. plus, the two bills that he is dealing with, nancy pelosi has three bills that she's got to
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put together, but the two bills that harry reid has to deal with are much further apart from each other than those three house bills. >> now, i was just noticing on your blog that arnold schwarzenegger, governor schwarzenegger has endorsed the approach, the democratic approach. >> that's right. we had a number of influential republican voices over the last few days. interestingly enough neither enough on the floor of congress and while they're not indoorsing a specific piece of legislation, they're saying basically the goals the president is trying to achieve here, the kinds of things that some in this party are calling socialized medicine are, in fac, something that the country needs. so, today we had arnold schwarzenegger, yesterday we had former hhs secretary tommy thompson and we had scott mcclellan who ran medicare and medicaid and the fda under george bush and even senator bill frist says that this is an important thing to move ahead on. >> karen, let me ask you one
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other thing, an event with doctors at the white house at the rose garden yesterday and i have to pursue this more, in more depth, but do you know anything about this photo opportunity where they were told to bring their white lab coats and those who forgot came in business attire were handed lab coats by white house staff members so that they would look like doctors for the photo-op? >> i think this is not such a huge deal. it isn't like the doctors were just at the white house for the swag, you know, i get a lab coat so i'll go to the white house. these were people who, you know, are there because they support the basic bill. and, certainly, the white house was looking for the most sort of effective photo-op that they could come up with. >> it is a dangerous group, doctors for america, but it was certainly assisted by white house staff. just seems like a lot of choreography for a white house which claims to be doing things authentically. >> you do have the, yeah, the,
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they're doctors but they're also playing one on tv at that point. >> exactly. well, we are reporters who play reporter on tv, too. karen, thank you very much. >> thank you, andrea. new signs that the global economy might be recovering but what about the economy here at home? we'll talk about that, next, with two experts on "andrea mitchell reports." u less salt than before in campbell's tomato soup while keeping the famous flavor. ♪ so many, many reasons ♪ it's so m'm! m'm! good! ♪
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more signs that the economy may still be a long way from full recovery. unemployment, of course, now nearly at 10% and predicted holiday sales will be down for the second year in a row. if that were to happen, it would be the first time in 40 years. cnbc's senior economic reporter steve liesman joins us now as well as steven weisman at the peterson institute for international economics. we have liesman and weisman and i guess i'll do steve and steve
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and steve liesman first to you at cnbc. the white house is talking about extending safety nets, unemployment benefits and what else can they do about the jobless problem? >> well, there's some talk, andrea, about some tax benefits for workers to help prompt employers to bring new workers on. i think what's really the bigger story right now, andrea, is that after having been, call it out in the woods on the issue of health care reforms, they have come back home and recognize the rather serious issue of jobs and joblessness in this country that is not only something that is persistent, but threatens to be persistent for several years and also affect next year's election. >> and, steve wiseman, how much of this is psychological? aside from the people who are suffering from unemployment when we hit that 10% number, how big a blow is that going to be and that, of course, filters down through people's spending habits and everything else that goes
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on. >> i think it's a big psychological blow and an economic blow. it's possible that it will inch up to 10%, but it might not. we lost 7 million jobs in this recession and the stimulus program of obama administration claims to have saved or created about 3 million jobs. but the part of the stimulus program, andrea, that is probably going to help the most in creating jobs hasn't started yet. it's delayed. those are the construction jobs. remember, the shovel ready. >> they weren't quite shovel ready. the administration is predicting now that those jobs will kick in next year and they're hoping that it will keep unemployment below 10%, maybe in the range of 9.5% by the time the big election rolls around next year. >> what are you seeing when i alluded to the retail federation
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has a bad forecast for the holiday sales. should we not be relying very much on, you know, spending around the christmas holiday season. retailers are not going to get very much good news. >> i was kind of surprised, andrea, that the retail federation forecast was not worse. i think the kind of decline. we would be lucky to get off that cheaply. look, an immediate issue which is that consumers will be stepping down their purchases, really, reducing their debt. they're not willing because they're not confident among other things and i think they realized it was a bad game to play for a while to stretch out debt wise quite so much to make purchases. so, that's going to be something that will have an immediate impact on christmas and it's something that people are hunkering down and people will say this will last for quite a while that consumers aren't coming back and taking on the debt to make purchases the way that they used to. >> liesman, first, to you. what would you do in terms of a second stimulus package or do you think there's enough in the pipeline that we don't need a second stimulus.
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>> i think we have to wait and see how this jobs plays out, but the obama administration should be readying and should be talking to the private sector and in the first instance, see what the private sector needs to get its act together and start hiring people. i think a legitimate issue here that uncertainly created by taxation and health care in the future is something that could inhibit at the margin some job creation. he has to settle those issues and tell us where these things are going to kind of give businesses the confidence they need to hire workers. >> and steve wiseman, right now, let's go the white house because robert gibes is being asked about the jobless numbers. let's go to gibes. >> based on the recovery plan that congress enacted in the middle of february and we have implemented. understanding the recession didn't start in mid-february. we didn't start losing jobs january 21st. the job loss goes back to, if i'm not mistaken, i'm looking at the graph in my head, 2007.
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just as i said yesterday and yesterday's answer that the recovery plan was not intended to dollar for dollar fill the gap or the hole that was creates in the downturn in our economy, which i think we said was about a $2 trillion gap. 3 million jobs does not exceed the number that have been lost as a result of this recession going back to december of 2007. >> two quick questions. the first one back to afghanistan, does the president think yesterday secretary gates said that this discussion should be candid, but also be happening privately. does the president think this is all happening too publicly? >> i'm not going to get in the way of parsing generals or secretaries of defense. >> robert gibbs isn't going to get into the argument about afghanistan and certainly not before congressional leaders come, but on the jobless numbers and the overall economy, steve, briefly, they don't have a great argument because there isn't a
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great argument right now. >> well, i think the administration will almost certainly look at at least extending unemployment benefits and expanding health benefits and that kind of stimulus. we'll probably see that when president obama presents his budget in january or february. i don't think we're going to see any decisions between now and then on some of the other aspects of the stimulus program, including the tax cuts that have been talked about. the problem with the stimulus program is that about a third of it went to tax cuts. that does not seem to have worked on consumer spending. >> getting people to spend. >> another chunk of it went to the states. that worked but it only worked in saving jobs and allowing states not to fire people. the real kick might come from these construction jobs that are going to be taking effect over the next year. >> steve weisman, thanks.
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great to see you. >> always a pleasure, thanks. and david letterman back in his studio audience again last night for the first time that he was the victim of an extortion plot. he used the opportunity to apologize to his staff and his wife. >> my wife, regina, she has been horribly hurt by my behavior and when something happens like that. if you hurt a person, it's your responsibility you try to fix it. let me tell you, folks, i got my work cut out for me. >> nbc peter alexander is live outside new york's edsullivan theater. peter, where does this case go next? >> we know david letterman will begin taping today at 5:30 the next episode of "tonight show." we don't know and so many other try to hear from him. yesterday he apologized to his wife and his staff. it was not his intention to talk
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about this situation any more but because the media reports and attention that he garnered he had the obligation to do that but he did say flat out that all these sexual relationships with women who work for him were in the past. now, this thing is by no means done. this morning "the new york times" is reporting that the attorney for joe halderman, the man accused of trying to extort david letterman has threatened to show evidence of david letterman sexually harassing some of the women that work for him. he says that heeds willing to use that in court right now and right now it's very possible and this thing ends up in a trial, it could be significantly damaging to david letterman's career. >> peter alexander, what a drama and the assignment that you have, all the latest from the letterman show. peter, thank you so much. speaking pelosi, meanwhile, another drama back here in washington, much less humorous and much less serious. repeating her vow that the health care bill and the house of representatives will have a
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public option. we've heard that before. up next, congressman elijah cummings on the health care fight. ♪ but not today ♪ 'cause they're gonna wash away ♪ ♪ this old heart ♪ gonna take them away [ quacks ] home run! (announcer) he's sweet. even with one third less sugar than soda. kool-aid. delivering more smiles per gallon. upbeat rock ♪ so i could hear myself myseas a ringtone ♪hone ♪ ♪ who knew the store would go and check my credit score ♪ ♪ now all they let me have is this dinosaur ♪ ♪ hello hello hello can anybody hear me? ♪ ♪ i know i know i know i shoulda gone to ♪ ♪ free credit report dot com! ♪ that's where i shoulda gone! coulda got my knowledge on! ♪ ♪
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house democrats work to combine three health care plans into one piece of legislation. many are worried their efforts are going to be steam rollered by the senate. democratic congressman elijah cummings joins us live. thanks for joining us. as you go into these negotiations with the senate, do you have concerns that the senate is going to have more leverage than the house? >> no, i don't have that feeling, andrea, because i think we're going to come out with a very robust, that is the house will come out with a very robust public option and keep in mind, according to my friend senator schumer, he says he's got at least 53, 54 senators, democrats who are for a public option. even the votes against the two votes against the public option the other day, a few votes, just
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about everybody, the democrats have voted against it express the fact that they liked it. they just had some concerns as to whether they could get it out of the senate. so, i think we're going to be fine. i think, and i think the public is now beginning to focus more on this public option and they realize that that's the only way that we're going to be truly able to keep down costs and be able to get people a true choice. >> but 53, 54 votes that senator schumer says he has, that's not 60 votes. you're not going to have the public option come out of the senate. >> yeah, well, i think based on what senator schumer is saying is he thinks there will be some form of public option coming out of the senate. it be, it may be senator cantwell's amendment. it may very well be something that comes out and says that there will be some efforts to give states the opportunity and
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the power and the resources to open the door for people who may not have as much money to get insurance. in other words, it may not take the form of the house bill, but i think that it if we can get something that alludes to or is close to a public option i think by the time we come together, i think and hopefully with the president pushing on it, i think we'll be able to put together a combination whereby we're not going to get steamrolled and i think we'll come out with something that's reasonable. may not be perfect, but it's something we can all live with and address the issue of choice and keeping the cost of insurance down. >> elijah comings from the hill. thank you very much, congressman. in just about an hour, the president will be meeting with congressional leadership to talk about afghanistan and pakistan. joining us now, michael o'hanlon at the brookings institution and elizabeth miller, our new york
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times washington correspondent, pentagon correspondent. elizabeth, thanks very much for joining us. your reporting yesterday or earlier this week, elizabeth, was that general petraeus was not taking as forceful a role in these national security deliberations and also obvious tension between secretary gates and general mcchrystal. from what you're seeing and what you're reporting, how is the military responding to this pressure from the white house, which seems to be drawing back from a robust engagement in afghanistan? >> well, i think the way you could -- secretary gates, defense secretary gates kind of tried to serve as a bridge last night when he earlier in the day yesterday he, you know, seemed to rebuke mcchrystal himself, but then said last night and at a later event that one of the reasons the situation is deteriorating in afghanistan is there are not enough troops. so, i think the military is not
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happy by with this sort of reaction coming out of the white house. i might add, the white house is not monliffic in this reaction, but i think the leadership is not happy about it and they've quietly retreated and a number of people have said that mcchrystal statements were not as tough in london about needing more troops as has been portrayed, but i think what gates did last night was try to say everybody calm down and let the president make his decisions and then we'll have the debate. >> michael o'hanlon, you've been writing about this and you have an op-ed in today's "washington post." let's talk about from your perspective what the implications will be if the president draws back from the march strategy. >> hi, andrea. pretty hypothetical and in the think tank world we don't mind addressing hypotheticals, but i don't really think that's likely and rather than put additional
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pressure on him now or somehow prejudge this thing, i'd rather just say a lot of important options he does have to consider, although the counterterrorism idea is a bad one and has already been disproven and i hope very much that is not being taken as seriously as most of us on the outside world think it might be. the options have much more to do on how we delay our additional contribution until the afghans do more and try to use our potential additional commitment as leverage to get the afghans to clean up their act a bit on the anti-corruption agenda and other things. that's where the interesting debates are and some people talking about a new approach negotiating the taliban. i'm not as optimistic on that front as others, but that's interesting, too. that's where i hope the debate really will go. so, i'm not really inclined to think that there is any serious chance that president obama will scale back dramatically at this juncture. >> well, what we are hearing
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saerbly from his meeting earlier this week with the nato, secretary-general rasmussen and we're hearing that nato is not going to step up to it and all the reporting from the field, michael, is that the afghan troops are ill prepared and illiterate and this is not iraq where there was an organized military. it is going to take years to create an afghan force of any size. >> probably two years, andrea. in other words, yes, quite a while, but not an indefinite period of time. we have seen the afghan army come together as a halfway decent fighting force and most people who observe them in the field say they're not bad. the afghan police is a different story. if you have one proof of principal already, we have now generated an afghan army of roughly 80,000 to 90,000 that is pretty good. that's not nearly the amount of force that is required as you rightly point out. but we can, to some extent figure out how long it will take and that part, you know, you can set to a calendar.
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not an exact process but one of mcchrystal's great ideas is to partner every one of these afghan units with a comparable nato unit and they will live, breathe, train, fight together all the time and that's the kind of mentoring that is required and it can work. i'm a little worried about the police because they are so ridden with corruption. but the basic concept of doing this sort of institution building we've already seen it work with the afghan army, at least to a certain extent. >> and elizabeth, what about morale? let's listen, first of all, to what john mccain had to say about the criticism about general mcchrystal speaking out openly in london. >> as far as general mcchrystal speaking out, you know, we wish they had spoken out earlier in the iraq war. we certainly wish they had spoken out during the vietnam war. they were are responsible for the lives of 68,000 young people who are over there fighting and in harm's way as we speak. i think he has an obligation to
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them. >> elizabeth, what is the mood at the pentagon and from the commanders you talked to about this tension that has developed, partly because of the very public reporting of what mcchrystal is recommending? >> i can't speak for the entire pentagon, it's a big billing and intire military and i can tell you that the top there is a lot of concern about the fact that they feel mcchrystal was given a strategy which is the president's strategy, you know, he's established in march and was told to, you know, give his best assessment on how to carry out that strategy and he did. you know, he's rethinking it but they feel that he was given an assignment and he carried it out and now if the president is having second thoughts, perhaps they shouldn't be taken as much to task. >> go ahead, michael. >> very quickly, i know, however, there are some people near the top of the pentagon who were frustrate would general mcchrystal who do object more
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than i do or more than senator mccain to what he said last week in london and they feel he stepped a bit out of bounds. there is that opinion among some of the senior leaders in the pentagon, as well. we heard it from secretary gates and a fairly sincere point of view but i still would not challenge the basic notion that, yes, there is a recognition on the part of dod that right now the strategy is still under resourced and not headed in a good direction. >> michael o'hanlon, thank you, both, very much. we have breaking news right now. a 5.6 magnitude earthquake is being reported out of mexico this hour. it hit about 175 miles southwest of puerto vallarta at a depth of 6.2 miles and we'll have more information as we get it. you've wanted to quit smoking so many times,
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the senate is preparing for possible heavy economic sanctions against iran, a standby option is this month's talk with iran fails and richard
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shelby is a ranking republican on the banking a committee who lead the hearings on possible international sanctions for iran. good to see you. >> thank thank you, andrea. >> you had an exchange with deputy secretary of state jim steinberg today on this very subject. your concern is that iran will clean up the site at qom before the inspectors get in. let me tell you a little bit about what happened at the hearing today. >> this is something we constantly take a look at. it's constantly under review because of the urgency it takes. >> in other words, you're saying you wouldn't ignore this, the new revelation? >> right. the only thing i would say on that, we have seen the reports. obviously we have not seen the formal conclusions. i look forward to that. you don't do the assessment once and look again. this is something we put a high priority to keep on the program of review. >> senator, to be specific, this was a question regarding the 2007 national intelligence estimate, whether or not iran was still working on weaponization on trying to
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develop a weapon. there's been a lot of reports in recent days that our allies believe they are proceeding and, in fact, are pretty far along. the u.s. had been more reluctant to come to that point of view. you put steinberg on the spot. he acknowledged at this hearing that they are reassessing that intelligence estimate. do you think there is rethinking going on in the weapons community about whether or not iran is trying to reweaponize? >> i hope so, andrea. i always thought myself that iran probably never stopped. they never stopped doing it. i can tell you, the intelligence committee needs to be -- community needs to be on top of everything and to reassess revelations that came out last week, hidden facilities and so forth perhaps they didn't know about. i think that's just being realistic in bringing our policymakers up to speed. >> the president has taken this
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policy of diplomatic engagement. and it has paid off to a point, at least, in that the iranians are now inviting the inspectors back in. they're saying they'll go to a second round. it'll be a few weeks before we know whether this is the real deal. but what you're saying is that he needs to be armed with sanctions in case this doesn't work? >> absolutely, andrea. you've got to look at the history, recent history of iran and remember, they're the banker, basically financing terrorism all over the world. they are determined to have nuclear weapons. we know that. so now all at once they're acting like they're going to get in some diplomatic discussions with us. i wouldn't trust it. i would be careful. i'd be like president reagan. i might trust a little bit. but i would certainly verify this, whatever. >> and if this legislation passes and there's a lot of support for it, the president would be able to waive it, to
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suspend the sanctions if he thinks diplomacy is working? >> he would have that -- what we're proposing, he would have that right as the president of the united states. because you can't have 535 people in the congress making foreign policy. but we are all involved in it to some extent. i'm believing that if we pass the tough sanctions, the president will have a stronger weapon than he has today. >> richard shelby, thank you, senator. good to see you. thanks for joining us today. what political story will be making headlines in the next 24 hours? that's next. prilosec otc. dominates heartburn. 24/7... including the eight hours you spend with your eyes closed. prilosec otc. heartburn gone. power on. crunch time, wheat thins. you and your tasty whole grain. this can only end one way. (crunch) wheat thins.
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what political story will be dominating the headlines? what's going to happen in the next 24 hours? >> andrea, you've been talking a lot about it. i think it's all about afghanistan. obviously the president meeting with leaders on capitol hill. this is a very funny issue. what's fascinating about it is you've seen the arguments for both sides played out in public, which is a rarity in the obama
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administration and in the obama campaign. you saw general mcchrystal make his case for more troops. you saw joe biden quietly make his case against more troops. then you saw defense secretary bob gates step in yesterday and say let's stop doing this. this is a thorny, difficult issue which divides democrats. that's the key here. president obama has to find a way to keep democrats unified behind this plan and hope he can rally some republican support as well. >> i should point out the pentagon says that secretary gates was not rebuking mcchrystal. that he was speaking more generally when he said to everyone, let's do it all quietly and behind the scenes. thank you so much. >> i believe that. >> of course you do. read more from chris on his blog at blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix. next ahead, "it's the
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